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Heart rate and training

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Old 01-01-19, 05:11 PM
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5kdad
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Heart rate and training

I've not cycled regularly in several years. But I'm planning to do a bike tour this summer, and need to get myself into shape. I bought a new tour bike a couple weeks ago, and have ridden a bit every day the past week. I've ridden around 123 miles in the last 9 days.
Yesterday, I did a 30 mile ride, included over 1,900' of climbing. I've always been a slow rider (less than 10mph average most of the time).
I'm 5'6", 215 lbs (down from 245 last summer), age 62.
Today I rode with my heart rate monitor on. It was a short ride, about 6 1/4 miles. Temperature 34. Here are the stats:
Max heart rate on ride...144
Average heart rate...132
ending rate....131
Put up bike, sat down in house....120
2 mintues later...101
5 minutes later....96
30 minutes later.....86
I suspect that perhaps these numbers just show I'm not in great shape? And definitely need to loose some of the lard?
Any suggestions/comments/observations?
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Old 01-01-19, 06:42 PM
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I'm not sure how useful heart rate is as an indicator of fitness or training guidelines for older folks or anyone with health issues or other complications. Too many variables.

I'm 61, 5'11" and 155 lbs, externally the fittest I've been since I was in my 20s. That's down from 205 lbs in the early 2000s when I was recovering from some serious car wreck injuries with several cracked vertebrae and walking with a cane for several years.

But my BP and HR have always been erratic at best. No matter how much I pursued endurance sports including long distance cycling at sustainable effort my resting heart rate was never below 70 even when I was in my teens and 20s. Occasionally pre-competition checkups showed my BP would spike to 140/90 or higher, although my resting BP was usually normal.

Nowadays my resting HR and BP are about the same as in my 20s, but with more erratic variations. The maximum HR I've been able to measure was 175, usually closer to 165 for sustained efforts on the indoor trainer. During a moderate effort session on the indoor trainer or outdoors my HR is usually around 120-140. It usually takes up to an hour to settle below 100. Usually it's still over 80 or even 90 for hours after a workout.

My BP occasionally spikes as high as 180/100 during a high intensity indoor session. If that happens I discontinue HIIT and settle for a low effort spin. I try to keep my BP around 150/90 or lower for high intensity efforts. Usually my BP settles down to normal limits after 30 minutes. Sometimes after a hard workout my BP will drop to 90/50, then recover to normal limits within an hour.

My HR and BP showed all the same fluctuations when I was hospitalized recently for surgery.

I've discussed this with my doctors. They seem unconcerned. My lab work is all fine. I don't take or need cholesterol meds. I don't take BP meds and so far the doctors haven't recommended any. My only prescriptions are levothyroxine and diclofenac (anti-inflammatory). But those are fairly recent and haven't affected my BP and HR.

I suspect the blood pressure and heart rate are affected by a longtime thyroid problem (Hashimoto's) and recent bout with thyroid cancer. But it takes weeks or even months for thyroid levels to settle, and it's still too soon to know whether it'll eventually affect my BP and HR.

Since the doctors don't seem concerned I'm assuming there's nothing to worry about or nothing that can be done. I'm just gonna ride my bike and try not to worry about it.
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Old 01-01-19, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I'm not sure how useful heart rate is as an indicator of fitness or training guidelines for older folks or anyone with health issues or other complications. Too many variables.

I'm 61, 5'11" and 155 lbs, externally the fittest I've been since I was in my 20s. That's down from 205 lbs in the early 2000s when I was recovering from some serious car wreck injuries with several cracked vertebrae and walking with a cane for several years.

But my BP and HR have always been erratic at best. No matter how much I pursued endurance sports including long distance cycling at sustainable effort my resting heart rate was never below 70 even when I was in my teens and 20s. Occasionally pre-competition checkups showed my BP would spike to 140/90 or higher, although my resting BP was usually normal.

Nowadays my resting HR and BP are about the same as in my 20s, but with more erratic variations. The maximum HR I've been able to measure was 175, usually closer to 165 for sustained efforts on the indoor trainer. During a moderate effort session on the indoor trainer or outdoors my HR is usually around 120-140. It usually takes up to an hour to settle below 100. Usually it's still over 80 or even 90 for hours after a workout.

My BP occasionally spikes as high as 180/100 during a high intensity indoor session. If that happens I discontinue HIIT and settle for a low effort spin. I try to keep my BP around 150/90 or lower for high intensity efforts. Usually my BP settles down to normal limits after 30 minutes. Sometimes after a hard workout my BP will drop to 90/50, then recover to normal limits within an hour.

My HR and BP showed all the same fluctuations when I was hospitalized recently for surgery.

I've discussed this with my doctors. They seem unconcerned. My lab work is all fine. I don't take or need cholesterol meds. I don't take BP meds and so far the doctors haven't recommended any. My only prescriptions are levothyroxine and diclofenac (anti-inflammatory). But those are fairly recent and haven't affected my BP and HR.

I suspect the blood pressure and heart rate are affected by a longtime thyroid problem (Hashimoto's) and recent bout with thyroid cancer. But it takes weeks or even months for thyroid levels to settle, and it's still too soon to know whether it'll eventually affect my BP and HR.

Since the doctors don't seem concerned I'm assuming there's nothing to worry about or nothing that can be done. I'm just gonna ride my bike and try not to worry about it.
Thanks for your reply! Very good information.
I've always had a rather high pulse rate. I think maybe a genetic thing, as my grandpa also had a fast heart rate. Sometimes it's in the 70's, but usually the 80's.
The reason I was concerned, after my long ride yesterday (30 miles), my heart rate was still in the mid 90's when I went to bed, about 5 hours after the completion of the ride. I have had high BP issues, and am on a high BP med. But from past experiences, when I exercise regularly, and watch my diet, my BP goes down. I was able to quit BP meds for awhile. I've had some health scares the past couple years. A rising PSA was finally diagnosed as BPH, no sign of cancer. Am taking Flomax. Also taking a prescription of med for stomach problems.
My cholesterol had been rising, but last check up, it had plummeted! Dr admitted when he seen the results, he double checked to make sure it had my name on it.
As I said in my OP, I'm planning a bike tour, beginning in June. Will be solo. Perhaps I'm a bit paranoid, hopefully not too much of a hypochondriac, just want to make sure I'm in good health before venturing out on my own this summer.
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Old 01-01-19, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Thanks for your reply! Very good information.
I've always had a rather high pulse rate. I think maybe a genetic thing, as my grandpa also had a fast heart rate. Sometimes it's in the 70's, but usually the 80's.
The reason I was concerned, after my long ride yesterday (30 miles), my heart rate was still in the mid 90's when I went to bed, about 5 hours after the completion of the ride. I have had high BP issues, and am on a high BP med. But from past experiences, when I exercise regularly, and watch my diet, my BP goes down. I was able to quit BP meds for awhile. I've had some health scares the past couple years. A rising PSA was finally diagnosed as BPH, no sign of cancer. Am taking Flomax. Also taking a prescription of med for stomach problems.
My cholesterol had been rising, but last check up, it had plummeted! Dr admitted when he seen the results, he double checked to make sure it had my name on it.
As I said in my OP, I'm planning a bike tour, beginning in June. Will be solo. Perhaps I'm a bit paranoid, hopefully not too much of a hypochondriac, just want to make sure I'm in good health before venturing out on my own this summer.
I think you were simply exhausted. Overdid it the past 9 days and it caught up with you. Evening HR is not very interesting. I'd ignore it. Dropping to 101 in 2 minutes is a good sign. Try this: every morning, get up and pee, put on your transmitter, lie down, get calm, and take your morning resting HR for 3-5 minutes. Then stand up and watch your HR for another 3 minutes. Log the lowest steady resting number you see, and the average HR for the last 30 seconds standing. Really, log them in a spreadsheet or online or paper training log. A big difference between resting and standing, for sure 20 beats, means take a couple days off. An increase of 6-8 beats from your usual resting HR means the same thing.

144 is a good max number for an average of 130, but it could be higher, say as high as 150. Holding 144 on the climbs will be very good training.
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Old 01-02-19, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Try this: every morning, get up and pee, put on your transmitter, lie down, get calm, and take your morning resting HR for 3-5 minutes. Then stand up and watch your HR for another 3 minutes. Log the lowest steady resting number you see, and the average HR for the last 30 seconds standing. Really, log them in a spreadsheet or online or paper training log. A big difference between resting and standing, for sure 20 beats, means take a couple days off. An increase of 6-8 beats from your usual resting HR means the same thing..
Ok, I can do this.
For how many days?
What sort of number trends am I looking for?
Should I eventually post those numbers here, for you to analyze? Not sure what I'd be looking for.
Thanks for your suggestion.
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Old 01-02-19, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
I'm 5'6", 215 lbs (down from 245 last summer), age 62.
And definitely need to loose some of the lard?
Any suggestions/comments/observations?
Loosing weight will be the number one change you can make in terms of bike performance as well as general quality of life apart from the bike.

Make sure you are getting plenty of rest. Exercise tears down our bodies. Recovery happens while we rest. Take one or two rest days each week and reduce volume, intensity and duration every fourth week so that your body can recover. You will come back stronger.


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Old 01-02-19, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
Ok, I can do this.
For how many days?
What sort of number trends am I looking for?
Should I eventually post those numbers here, for you to analyze? Not sure what I'd be looking for.
Thanks for your suggestion.
1) For the rest of your cycling life. I've been doing this every day for ~20 years. More data is better.

2) It's personal. Everyone's different. I'll tell you what I experience, which may be some slight help. My normal "rested" morning resting heart rate (MRHR) is ~46. After a few hard workouts, it might rise to 50-51. When it gets up to the low 50's I take time off until it drops back down below 50. My morning standing heart rate (MSHR) can be as low as 54 when I'm in good shape and rested. 58-62 is more normal. If it hits 68-70 I definitely take time off. Besides my morning numbers, I look at resting numbers when riding. Standing by the bike in the morning, my HR is usually 65-70. At a rest stop during a really hard ride, when I'm totally cooked and hoping just to see my car again, it might not drop below 100.

Don't look to copy my numbers. Look at the number gaps, their relationships. The object is to see your own MRHR and MSHR responses to training. You want to see a response. From that, you can learn when to take adequate time off from overdoing it a bit, when you need to workout more, and when you really need some rest. With practice, one can come up with a weekly schedule that works somewhat consistently, although I'm constantly changing mine in response to unexpected results or events or just having a life.

3) No need to post your numbers unless they seem really weird. Learn to analyze your own numbers. I wouldn't be much help. One also has to judge by the feel of one's legs, how much sleep one has had, if one partied, etc.
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Old 01-02-19, 09:11 PM
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Ditto, rest and, if possible, relaxation. It's usually possible to try to physically rest. It can be difficult to actually relax.

I'm sure my spikes and erratic BP and HR are due in part to stress. 2018 was pretty awful -- injury, illness, surgery, months of unemployment, then a death in the family -- and I'm sure it showed in my energy and vital signs.

In previous years I was able to ride in cold and even wet winter weather, but this year every time I've tried that I ended up sick again with a respiratory problem or just exhausted and needing 2-3 days to recover.

So I decided to discontinue serious training -- intervals, at least -- for the winter and just maintain a basic level of fitness between the indoor trainer and outdoor rides when the weather is suitable.
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Old 01-03-19, 11:55 AM
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No surprise that HR is going to be a function of how hard you're working.
so, you should be looking to see that you're getting stronger over time (months) and that you get the same work done with less effort. (or shall we say "fitness").
HR training will show you how your fitness improves with regular exercise -- and, at your age, it certainly will.
don't look for "comparables" - you're likely to get misleading indications when you compare yourself to others, so just see how your own results change over time.
for example, in eight weeks, see if you can do the same distance at the same speed (it will likely feel slow) and compare the average HR. now you're looking at results.
also, investigate the different approaches to training -- HIIT, varying work levels during your week, HR zones.
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